On Friday, we asked you to name dumb regulations. Some of the policies you described in response certainly would seem like excellent candidates for a second look by rule makers. We haven’t tried to verify these accounts, nor have we asked the agencies for comment. These are simply three notes that piqued our interest.
From Rebecca Menes of Arlington, Va.:
The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) requires that all products intended for children 12 and under be tested for lead, even if all of the components used in manufacture are already separately tested. For example, if you manufacture children’s clothes that use zippers, and all of your zippers come from the same manufacturer, who already tests their zippers to meet the requirements of the CPSIA, you still have to send an example of each style and color to be tested. The lab cuts each zipper out of the item, and separately tests each zipper, repeating the original manufacturers test, at a cost of several hundred per garment. The inability to use component testing is a heavy burden for small firms, for new entrants, and for lines with a small target market, such as toys for older developmentally delayed children. For a small domestic children’s clothing manufacturer, producing several dozen designs for four to six seasonal collections per year, the cost of the additional testing can put them out of business.
From Gordon Shumway of Minneapolis:
I nominate NHTSA’s new “ejection mitigation” regulation which aims to prevent people who refuse to wear seat belts from being ejected from their SUVs when they roll over. Let Darwin act appropriately on those who refuse to use the already mandated ejection mitigation device — the seat belt”
From “Jeff” of Burlington, Vt.:
That in the process of restoring environmentally degraded salt ponds in San Francisco Bay (the “Morton Salt” case), or the dredging of existing shipping channels throughout the country, the incidential spill of mud from the dredging bucket – mud and sediment that is already in place! – is deemed a *new* act of pollution requiring government review and permitting!
Of course, it would not be surprising if each of these policies had passionate defenders, too. A case in point: A number of readers wrote to defend the regulation described at the beginning of our article, dictating that place names on new highway signs must be spelled with just one capital letter — like This, not THIS.
“Hi there Binyamin,” wrote Amy Files, a graphic designer from Boston. “Not sure how you decided on which rule to focus on — but the first rule listed is not dumb at all. It is not just senior citizen advocate groups but any graphic or type designer will tell you that typefaces were not designed to be read in all-caps — and that upper-lower case lettering is, and this has been thoroughly tested, easier to read.”